Το δωμάτιο του Μυριβήλη στη Λέσβο, το σπίτι του Παπαδιαμάντη στη Σκιάθο, το σπίτι του Σικελιανού στη Σαλαμίνα, «εδώ έζησε ο Αλέξανδρος Ρίζος Ραγκαβής» έξω από μια πολυκατοικία στην Πανεπιστημίου, το σπίτι του Καβάφη στην Αλεξάνδρεια και ποιά άλλα μπορείτε να σκεφτείτε;
Απηχώντας την Βιρτζίνα Γουλφ και το A room of one’s own είχαμε ρωτήσει την κυρία Αθηνά Κακούρη ποιό είναι το δικό της δωμάτιο και πού συγκεντρώνεται προκειμένου να γράψει.
Στο ξενόγλωσσο άρθρο που ακολουθεί, μπορείτε να επισκεφτείτε νοερά τα σπίτια που συνδέθηκαν με διάσημους συγγραφείς και να εισπνεύσετε τον αέρα του χώρων τους. Εκεί απ’όπου πέρασε ο Προυστ, ο Β.Ουγκώ, η Κάρεν Μπλίξεν και άλλοι.
«Desk bound: in search of writers’ houses» της Caroline Bugler
There’s something irresistible about wandering round a writer’s house, lingering in rooms where a novel has been composed, looking at the view from the desk, and imagining the fantasies that have taken place within the walls. Reading letters that were once private, and resting your eyes on personal mementoes gives genuine insight tinged with prurient satisfaction. Houses can also be places of creative inspiration in themselves, the outward expression of an author’s inner life. They can be places of sanctuary, solitude and calm, or whirlwinds of fertile chaos.
Most living writers’ houses remain hidden from the public, of course, but in Europe a significant number of those once inhabited by literary greats are now run as museums. The coverage is very uneven: there are several in England and France, perhaps reflecting the strength of literary tradition in both countries, but far fewer elsewhere. Though to be fair, Austria and Italy win out for the sheer number of musicians’ homes they have opened to the public.
It’s hard to select from the cornucopia of possibilities in France, where the public can nose around 290 writers’ homes, and there is a literary shrine to almost any writer you care to mention – Balzac, Dumas, Georges Sand, Rousseau, Zola. Proust‘s cork-lined room on Boulevard Haussmann in Paris may have disappeared, but by way of consolation there is the house in Illiers-Combray where his aunt Leonie lived, and where he spent holidays as a child. The invalid aunt’s bedside table is set out with a neat still-life of lime tea and madeleines in homage to the childhood tasting that sparked twelve volumes of reflection on the nature of memory.
Musee Marcel Proust/Maison de Tante Leonie
4 rue docteur Proust, Illiers-Combray.
Telephone 126.96.36.199 for opening times
Proust’s aunt’s house is solidly, almost depressingly, bourgeois, which could hardly be said of Pierre Loti’s exotic confection in Rochefort. Loti is not exactly a household name these days, but in the late 19th century his stories were hugely popular. His home is every bit as fantastic as his tales, and worth visiting even if you have never read a word of his prose: one room is an Orientalist fantasia, and another is decked out as a medieval banqueting hall.
Maison Pierre Loti
141 rue Pierre Loti
Visits of groups by arrangement only. Telephone 05.46.99.16.88
Victor Hugo’s taste was equally stagey, but less obviously eccentric. It can be seen in all its glory in his apartment in the Place des Vosges in Paris, where he lived in some opulence from 1832 to 1848. The author’s life story is told through collections of his own drawings, paintings, portraits, manuscripts and documents. The restored dining room includes Chinese furniture he chose for his house in Guernsey. The cream of French literary society – Balzac, Dumas, de Nerval, Mérimée – gathered here and in the salon, but other guests, like Hugo’s long-term mistress Juliette Drouet, made their entrances and exits though the secret staircase that led straight into Hugo’s study.
Maison Victor Hugo
6 Place des Vosges
75 004 PARIS
Open:10 am – 5.40 pm every day except Mondays and bank holidays. Entry: free
Many English writers’ houses provide a literal backdrop to the works penned in their rooms. In Under the Greenwood Tree Thomas Hardy describes in some detail the cottage in Lower Bockhampton, Dorset, where he was born and spent his early years as a novelist. The farmhouse near Hawkshead in the Lake District, where Beatrix Potter lived, actually appears in her illustrations to Samuel Whiskers. Virginia Woolf drew inspiration for her novel Orlando from her friend Vita Sackville West’s ancestral Kentish home, Knole, and her own much humbler country retreat, Monk’s House in Sussex, is described in her last novel, Between the Acts. The rooms at Monk’s House are filled with the painted furniture created by her sister Vanessa Bell and by Duncan Grant, and there are Bloomsbury Group paintings on the walls. With their home-made look, they evoke the world of literary bohemia in country exile. But it is the garden that is the most beguiling feature: it is a place to visit on a long summer afternoon, when the flowers are at their best, providing a romantic setting for the garden hut where Virginia went to write.
Rodmell, Lewes, East Sussex
Open: end March – end October Wednesday and Saturday 2-5.30 pm.
The location of Danish writer Karen Blixen‘s home, on the other hand, seems strangely out of kilter with her work. The most abiding images associated with her are of the sweeping African plains she described in Out of Africa, and it seems incongruous to find so much of the material she amassed while running an African farm preserved in the damper, chillier climate of Rungsted in Denmark. Her 400-year-old cottage was originally an inn for wayfarers along the shore road between Copenhagen and Elsinore. Blixen was born here and came back sporadically during her 17 years in Africa, only returning permanently to live and write following the tragic death of her lover Denys Finch Hatton in an air crash. The writer’s presence haunts house: her old typewriter and fountain pen are set out on the desk, and there are ivory carvings and her paintings – many of African subjects. In a sense the house is a shrine to Blixen and Finch Hatton’s love affair: on display are his favourite chair, his phonographs and his photographs in two tiny silver frames.
Rungstedlund is on the coastal road (152N), 25km north of Copenhagen
Open 1 May – 30 September: 10 am -5 pm Tuesday to Sunday. 1 October – 30 April:1- 4 pm Wednesday, Thursday, Friday; 11 am-4 pm Saturday and Sunday. Entry: DKK 45.
Goethe‘s house is a perfect encapsulation of time and place. Its interior is a model of cool restraint – as befits the central figure in Weimar Classicism. Aficionados of Biedermeier will find a great deal to admire in these rooms, which have been restored to how they looked towards the end of the great German writer’s lifetime. Goethe lived in this plain Baroque building for almost 50 years, until his death in 1832. Adjoining his study are the modest room in which he died and his library, containing 5,400 books. Behind the house is a small garden. The upper floor contains a wide range of material on his life and work. Schiller’s House, also in Weimar, provides further variations on the Beidermeier interior theme. Although Goethe’s poet and dramatist friend spent only three years of his life there, it is decorated with the same purity and attention to detail, inviting an exercise in compare and contrast.
Open: April- September Tues-Sun 9am – 6pm; October-March Tues-Sun 9am-4pm.
Because all these writers’ houses are domestic in scale, most have to restrict their visitor numbers. But all this helps to preserve the intimacy that allows you to indulge your own reverie.
Αν το θέμα σας εμπνέει όπως εμάς, θα περάσετε πολλή ώρα θαυμάζοντας τα γραφεία σύγχρονων και παλιότερων συγγραφέων εδώ.
Κάποιοι θα σας είναι γνωστοί, άλλοι άγνωστοι, αλλά το σίγουρο είναι ότι θα εκπλαγείτε με το πόσο μικροί ή μεγάλοι είναι οι προσωπικοί τους χώροι, εκεί όπου επιλέγουν να απομονωθούν. Κάτι άλλο που ίσως σας εντυπωσιάσει είναι το πόσοι πολλοί εξακολουθούν να γράφουν τα βιβλία τους στο χέρι και όχι σε κομπιούτερ. Τέλος, θα μείνετε με το στόμα ανοιχτό βλέποντας το μικρό τραπέζι στο οποίο έγραψε η Jane Austen τα βιβλία της, αυτά που έμειναν στην αιωνιότητα…